Friday, July 07, 2006

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Or things to see in New York City when you aren't visiting the Guggenheim.
A 160-pound wonder from Japan set a new record by devouring a sickening 53¾ frankfurters in 12 minutes to win the annual Independence Day hotdog eating competition on Coney Island.

The feat earned Takeru Kobayashi, 27, his sixth straight title in the event, held at the original Nathan's Famous hotdog stand on Brooklyn's seashore. His prize: the coveted Yellow Mustard Belt.

Kobayashi broke his own record of 53½ hotdogs, set at the same competition two years ago.

Thousands of raucous spectators jammed the streets in front of the hotdog stand, a block from the famed Coney Island boardwalk, to watch the competition and Kobayashi—a top-ranked eater who once ate 17.7 pounds of pan-seared cow brains to win $25,000.

His strongest competition was Joey Chestnut, a 220-pound civil engineering student from San Jose, Calif., who set a U.S. record by eating 50 hotdogs during a qualifying tournament in Las Vegas.

Chestnut jumped out to an early lead in the competition, sometimes jamming franks into his mouth with two hands as the crowd roared.

But Chestnut struggled, red-faced, with veins bulging in his forehead, as the Japanese star methodically chomped dog after dog, often dipping them in a soft drink before cramming them into his mouth. Kobayashi passed Chestnut with about three minutes left in the contest.

When the clock expired, Chestnut had swallowed 52 Nathan's franks—not quite enough.

"I hit a wall. I just felt tired," he told an interviewer from ESPN, which broadcast the competition live.

Joey Chestnut won the Wing Bowl earlier in the year.


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